Alternative Teaching at Canadian Universities

  • Abstract

    Alternative teaching (in the sense of approaches deriving from John Dewey's 1916 book: Democracy and Education) is still relevant to higher education. Developments since 1916 have crystalized along themes of experiential education, problem-based education, project-based education, inquiry-based inducation, active learning, and democratic education. To see how these themes have manifested in Canadian Universities, the following avenues are explored: 1) Canadian University Organizations (specifically the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education, and the Higher Education Quality Coucil of Ontario); 2) Quest University (as an institution specifically created to provide an alternative the standard University education in Cananda); and 3) University Teaching Support Centers in Canada (as organizations that provide a context/ language for general attempts at improving teaching at universities). A list of key words and phrases related to alternative teaching theory and practice is then used to search the web sites associated with these organizations to see what overlap there is between the `alternative teaching vocabulary' and their organizational vocabulary. This investigation demonstrates that alternative teaching methods are definitely in evidence in the Canadian Higher Education community.

  • Section I: Introduction

    The organization of education at modern universities has been described as a system developed in the context of the industrial revolution and the training needed to keep the factories running (This book is not required / by Inge Bell DBW stack LB2322.B394 1991). With the collapse of the factory workplace due to automation, another model for education becomes necessary. One approach has been to try and anticipate the needs of the automated workplace with its restrictions to what can be handled easily by computers (e.g., e-learning), but, almost by definition, the automated workplace has little need of human monitoring or enhancement by educated workers. Another, older, approach is to make the student a more independent learner, who defines their own goals and works out paths to accomplish them. It is this second alternative that will be the focus of this writing.

    One source for this approach can be found in the writings of John Dewey. In 1916 ( Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education), we have:

    1. We thus reach a technical definition of education: It is that reconstruction or reorganization of experience which adds to the meaning of experience, and which increases ability to direct the course of subsequent experience. (1) The increment of meaning corresponds to the increased perception of the connections and continuities of the activities in which we are engaged. The activity begins in an impulsive form; that is, it is blind. It does not know what it is about; that is to say, what are its interactions with other activities. An activity which brings education or instruction with it makes one aware of some of the connections which had been imperceptible. ...
    2. (2) The other side of an educative experience is an added power of subsequent direction or control. To say that one knows what he is about, or can intend certain consequences, is to say, of course, that he can better anticipate what is going to happen; that he can, therefore, get ready or prepare in advance so as to secure beneficial consequences and avert undesirable ones.
    3. One may learn by doing something which he does not understand; even in the most intelligent action, we do much which we do not mean, because the largest portion of the connections of the act we consciously intend are not perceived or anticipated. But we learn only because after the act is performed we note results which we had not noted before. But much work in school consists in setting up rules by which pupils are to act of such a sort that even after pupils have acted, they are not led to see the connection between the result -- say the answer -- and the method pursued. So far as they are concerned, the whole thing is a trick and a kind of miracle.
    4. Routine action, action which is automatic, may increase skill to do a particular thing. In so far, it might be said to have an educative effect. But it does not lead to new perceptions of bearings and connections; it limits rather than widens the meaning-horizon. And since the environment changes and our way of acting has to be modified in order successfully to keep a balanced connection with things, an isolated uniform way of acting becomes disastrous at some critical moment. The vaunted "skill" turns out gross ineptitude.
    5. The conception of education as a social process and function has no definite meaning until we define the kind of society we have in mind.
    The last is interesting in that much of the literature on alternative education has a decidely `non-capitalist' feel to it. While many would view this as bringing politics into education where it need not be, in reality it is just acknowledging the already heavily biased political positions inherent in traditional teaching methods and offering some balance (What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy, by Joel Westheimer (University of Ottawa) and Joseph Kahne, American Educational Research Journal, 2004 number 2 -- see also the 35 minute youtube video Joel Westheimer: Testing, 'Accountability', and the Threat to Canadian Democracy).

    Dewey is an author of some complexity, whose writings have been used as a motivator for many different educational systems. One of these is loosely called Experiential Education ( wikipedia entry). One journal that covers this topic is JEE,The Journal of Experiential Education (, whose editors are Pat Maher (Cape Breton University, CAN), Philip Mullins (University of Northern British Columbia, CAN) and Glyn Thomas (University of the Sunshine Coast, AUS). Much of the journal is focussed on the ins and outs of going into the wilderness as an educational experience, but some of the articles that have appeared there are more generally relevant to university education, including:

    1. The Complex Experience of Learning to Do Research, by Kenneth Emo, Wendy Emo, Jung-Han Kimn, and Stephen Gent, March 30, 2015. This reports on ``undergraduate college students while they conducted independent, original research during an 8-week U.S. National Science Foundation -- funded Research Experience for Undergraduates''.
    2. Appreciative Inquiry and Autonomy-Supportive Classes in Business Education: A Semilongitudinal Study of AI in the Classroom, by Thomas A. Conklin and Nathan S. Hartman, 19 December 2013
    3. Experiential Learning in Occupational Therapy: Can It Enhance Readiness for Clinical Practice?, by Lisa Jean Knecht-Sabres, March 2013.
    4. Explicating Practicum Program Theory: A Case Example in Human Ecology, by Kathryn M. M. Chandler and Deanna L. Williamson, September 2013. ``This study explicated the theory underpinning the Human Ecology Practicum Program offered in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta. ''
    5. Cultural Speak: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Experiential Learning in a Public Speaking Classroom, by Janet Colvin and Nancy Tobler, September 2013.
    6. Experiencing Philosophy: Engaging Students in Advanced Theory, by Sean Blenkinsop and Chris Beeman, May 2012.
    7. Incorporating an Authentic Learning Strategy Into Undergraduate Apparel and Merchandising Curriculum, by Yoon Jin Ma and Hyun-Hwa Lee, May 2012.
    8. Experiential Learning: Dissolving Classroom and Research Borders, by Rhonda McClellan and Adrienne E. Hyle, May 2012
    9. Student-Centered Course Design: Empowering Students to Become Self-Directed Learners, by Bryan J. Hains and Brittany Smith, August 2012.
    10. An Environmental Pedagogy of Care: Emotion, Relationships, and Experience in Higher Education Ethics Learning, by Lissy Goralnik, Kelly F. Millenbah, Michael P. Nelson, and Laurie Thorp, October 2012.
    11. Are Dewey's Ideas Alive and Well in New Zealand Undergraduate Education? Kiwi Case Studies of Inquiry-Based Learning, by Billy O'Steen, April 2008.
    12. Seeing the Big Picture: Experiential Education in Tertiary Music Education, by Jane Southcott, July 2004.
    13. Promoting Student-Centered Learning in Experiential Education, by Cheryl A. Estes, September 2004. Includes the quote: Our socialization causes us to see ourselves as more student-centered than we actually are. That is, teacher-controlled processing of experiential activities fits our worldview of what teacher-student relationships should look like. Further, it is probable that while experiential educators unintentionally fall into this habit of assuming power over student learning, increased awareness of this problem will promote their desire to engage in conversations directed at increasing the use of student-centered facilitation practices
    14. Beyond Book Learning: Cultivating the Pedagogy of Experience Through Field Trips, Lisa Marie Jakubowski (Brescia University College, CAN), July 2003.
    15. Bringing Educational Relevancy to the First-Year College Experience By Bearing Witness to Social Problems, by Jonathan R. Peters and Donald E. Stearns, September 2003. Includes the quote: If students are taught using the standard high school approach, and they do not experience a major difference in the teaching of higher education during their first semester of college, they will tend to rely on the traditional approach to learning they experienced prior to college.
    16. University Students' Perceptions of Cooperative Learning: Implications for Administrators and Instructors, by Maurice Phipps, Cindy Phipps, Susan Kask, and Scott Higgins, March 2001.
    17. How Shall We ``Know?'' Epistemological Concerns in Research in Experiential Education, by Pete Allison and Eva Pomeroy, September/October 2000. Includes the quote: Researchers who identify the "Does it work?" question as the only research concern in the field of experiential education undervalue and underestimate its potential and the multiple applications for which it can be used. Further, there are some ironies in trying to create these "answers" to "prove" the value of experiential education. If one of the aims of this field is to help learners make their own meaning of the world around them (that is, learn experientially), then how can we "prove," in the traditional sense, that this is happening? And, should this really be our focus anyway? Warner (1984, p. 41) noted this irony when he eloquently commented that, "It is paradoxical that an education movement which places so much emphasis on learning as a process focuses its research efforts on documenting products." Warner's insightful comment highlights the need for a different research paradigm!
    18. Mentoring at the edge: A faculty group fosters experiential teaching, Alison Morrison-Shetlar and Kathleen Heinrich, June 1999
    19. "Nothing important to communicate": Some reflections on the irrelevance of information technology, by James M. Glover, September/October 1999.
    A recent definitional update can be found in: Evolving Kolb: Experiential Education in the Age of Neuroscience by Jeb Schenck and Jessie Cruickshank ( December 4, 2014). The Kolb model of experiential education, due to David A. Kolb ( wikipedia entry), sees learning as a cycle starting with `concrete experience' progressing to `observation and reflection on that experience' from which one proceeds to the `formation of abstract concepts based upon the reflection' followed by `testing the new concepts'.

    Related approaches to learning are Project-Based Learning ( wikipedia entry), Problem-Based Learning ( wikipedia entry) that was developed at MacMaster University Medical School CAN in the 1960s and has since been applied in a wide range of subjects, Active Learning ( wikipedia entry), and Inquiry-based Learning ( wikipedia entry). One can also think of Service learning ( wikipedia entry) as a variety of experiential education where there is significant focus on the social meaningfulness of the experience

    Another journal of interest is: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning (IJPBL) including such articles as:

    1. Differ in Socio-Cognitive Processes? Some Comparisons Between Paper and Video Triggered PBL, by Jingyan Lu and Lap Ki Chan, 2015 issue 2.
    2. Taking a Leap of Faith: Redefining Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Through Project-Based Learning, by Jean S. Lee, Sue Blackwell, Jennifer Drake, and Kathryn A. Moran, 2014 issue 2.
    3. Improving Problem-based Learning in Creative Communities Through Effective Group Evaluation, by Richard E. West, Greg S. Williams, and David D. Williams, 2013 issue 2.
    4. Supporting Student Self-Regulated Learning in Problem- and Project-Based Learning, by Mary C. English and Anastasia Kitsantas, 2013 issue 2.
    5. Framing Collaborative Behaviors: Listening and Speaking in Problem-based Learning, by Louisa Remedios, David Clarke, and Lesleyanne Hawthorne, 2008 issue 1.
    6. Goals and Strategies of a Problem-based Learning Facilitator, by Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver and Howard S. Barrows, 2006 issue 1.
    7. Overview of Problem-based Learning: Definitions and Distinctions, by John R. Savery, 2006 issue 1.

    Another journal of interest is: Active Learning in Higher Education (ALHE) including such articles as:

    1. The role consumerism plays in student learning, by Laura M Harrison and Laura Risler, 2015 issue 1. Which included the quote: educational quality is compromised when students are understood as customers to be placated rather than learners to be challenged
    2. Summative co-assessment: A deep learning approach to enhancing employability skills and attributes, by Susan J Deeley, 2014 issue 1. Which included the quote: Co-assessment requires the student and teacher to reach a mutually agreed appropriate grade for the assignment through discussion and negotiation which must be supported by evidence and reasoned argument.
    3. Peer review in higher education: Student perceptions before and after participation, by Raoul A Mulder, Jon M Pearce, and Chi Baik, 2014 issue 2. quote: In tertiary education, assessment and feedback have predominately been seen as the exclusive role and responsibility of academic teaching staff (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). This not only greatly limits the diversity of perspectives students are exposed to but raises troubling questions about how students will develop the self-regulation skills needed for life outside of university if formative assessment is left exclusively to teaching staff
    4. Enhancing self-directed learning through a content quiz group learning assignment, by Natalie Warburton and Simone Volet, 2012 issue 1.
    5. Self-regulation and autonomy in problem- and project-based learning environments, by Candice Stefanou, Jonathan D Stolk, Michael Prince, John C Chen, and Susan M Lord, 2013 issue 2.
    6. Intimidation in small learning groups: The roles of social comparison concern, comfort, and individual characteristics in student academic outcomes, by Marina Micari and Denise Drane, 2011 issue 3.
    7. Peer, professor and self-evaluation of class participation, by Gina J. Ryan, Leisa L. Marshall, Kalen Porter, and Haomiao Jia, 2007 issue 1. includes the quote: The literature suggests that allowing the students to be involved with the creation of the evaluation criteria may improve student understanding and acceptance of the assigned grades (Dochy et al., 1999). However, our students were not able to contribute to the development of the grading criteria because our institution requires documentation of all grading criteria in the course syllabi no later than the first day of class.
    8. Tete a tete -- Reading groups and peer learning, by Sara-Jane Finlay and Guy Faulkner (U of Toronto, CAN), 2005 issue 1.

    Socratic Arts is a company whose product is curriculum design along these lines. One of its projects for Carnegie Mellon University was described:

    This fits into an experiencial education model focussed on the professional schooling advocated by Donald Schon ( wikipedia entry). In `Educating the reflective practitioner: [toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions]' ( EDU stack LC1059.S45 1987), he describes the practicum (pages 37 - 38):

    He gives as examples of practicums: a master class in musical performance, learning psychoanalytic practice, and learning counselling skills. However, he is also focussed on the training of lawyers, doctors, and engineers and has had significant impact on teacher education and the training of nurse practitioners.

    The issue of ``student-centered'' learning (see Estes article above JEE #13) moves us in the direction of another set of educational methods: Democratic Education ( wikipedia entry), Constructivism ( wikipedia entry), and Sudbury Schools ( wikipedia entry). In the Sudbury model (quoting wikipedia):

    Examples in Ontario at the pre-University level include Alpha Alternative School (in Toronto), Alpha II Alternative School (in Toronto), and Agate Private School (in London). A related approach connected with Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Learning includes the Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough and Westmount Secondary School in Hamilton.

    At the University, you see a version of this in voluntary groupings such as Thesis Circles ( wikipedia entry) which can be viewed as a variation on Communities of Practice ( wikipedia entry). Indeed, one might view developing the individual to eventually continue learning in a community of practice (as well as participate in self-directed teams ( wikipedia entry on high commitment management)) as being a goal of the educational system.

    The concept of `student-centered learning' ( wikipedia entry) is popular in some circles. The following wikipedia quotes indicate that it goes further than many who use the term actually go:

    As a possible example of what this sort of thing might look like in a Canadian University, we could consider the overview of Biology 3224G, Special Topics in Biology: Education in Life Sciences (2015) by Tom Haffie. This overview contains the quote: One can only wonder how good students will get at this sort of thing if they only do it once toward the end of their schooling.

    Also, a step in this direction is the notion of `differentiated evaluation' (cf. How to Create a More Inclusive Learning Strategy in Large Upper-year Undergraduate Courses: the use of differentiated evaluation, by Julie Gosselin (University of Ottawa), Psychology Learning and Teaching, 2012 number 2). Julie Gosselin describes the implementation of this approach as:

    Having presented this background on `alternative teaching', let us consider aspects of it in Canada's University system. One way to approach this is to search for the occurance of various key words or phrases on their web sites. The search terms (ST) chosen were:

    1. active learning wikipedia entry
    2. authentic assessment wikipedia entry
    3. autodidacticism wikipedia entry
    4. autonomous learning wikipedia entry
    5. Bell Lancaster method wikipedia entry
    6. case method wikipedia entry
    7. critical thinking critical thinking
    8. collaborative learning wikipedia entry
    9. connected learning wikipedia entry
    10. constructivism wikipedia entry
    11. constructivist learning wikipedia entry
    12. cooperative learning wikipedia entry
    13. critical pedagogy wikipedia entry
    14. Daniel Greenberg wikipedia entry
    15. David Kolb wikipedia entry
    16. democratic education democratic education
    17. differentiated assessment wikipedia entry
    18. differentiated evaluation (alternative phrasing for differentiated assessment)
    19. differentiated instruction wikipedia entry
    20. discovery learning wikipedia entry
    21. experiential learning wikipedia entry
    22. flipped classroom wikipedia entry
    23. formative assessment wikipedia entry
    24. hidden curriculum wikipedia entry
    25. inquiry based learning wikipedia entry
    26. integrative learning wikipedia entry
    27. jigsaw wikipedia entry
    28. John Dewey wikipedia entry
    29. learner centered education wikipedia entry
    30. learning by teaching wikipedia entry
    31. learning cell wikipedia entry
    32. learning community wikipedia entry
    33. mastery learning wikipedia entry
    34. mission based learning wikipedia entry
    35. monitorial system wikipedia entry
    36. Moore method wikipedia entry
    37. mutual instruction wikipedia entry
    38. open source learning wikipedia entry
    39. peer assessment wikipedia entry
    40. peer instruction wikipedia entry
    41. problem based learning wikipedia entry
    42. project based learning wikipedia entry
    43. reciprocal teaching wikipedia entry
    44. reflective practice wikipedia entry
    45. scaffolding wikipedia entry
    46. self assessment wikipedia entry
    47. self directed learning wikipedia entry
    48. self regulated learning wikipedia entry
    49. service learning wikipedia entry
    50. situated learning wikipedia entry
    51. student centered learning wikipedia entry
    52. student dyad wikipedia entry
    53. student voice wikipedia entry
    54. team based learning wikipedia entry
    55. think pair share wikipedia entry
    56. transformative learning wikipedia entry

  • Section II: Canadian University Teaching Organizations

    Three Canadian University teaching organizations are explored in this section for information relavent to alternative teaching styles: 1) the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education; 2) the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education; and 3) the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

  • Section IIA: Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

    The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) has the web site It published The Canadian Journal for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning ( CJSoTL), which is one way to view what is going on in Canada. Relevant articles include:

    1. A Survey of Civic Engagement Education in Introductory Canadian Politics Courses, by Stephanie Bell and JP Lewis, 2015, issue 1. Here a survey of 98 instructors of Political Science indicated that while 95% included civic engagement as a learning objective of their courses, none required students to participate in such activities outside the classroom.
    2. Inquiry Learning: Instructor Perspectives, by Susan Vajoczki, Susan Watt, and Michelle M. Vine, 2011, issue 2. Discusses the tradition of inquiry-based learning at McMasters.
    3. Adjusting Curricular Design to ``CREATE'' a Culture of Self-Regulation, by Rylan Egan, 2011, issue 2.

    STLHE also sponsors the Council of 3M National Teaching Fellows.

  • SoTL Canada SoTL Canada is a special interest group (SIG) of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. blog site
  • The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (open access)

  • Section IIB: Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education

    The website for the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE) is They publish the Canadian Journal of Higher Education.

    CSSHE publishes the Canandian Journal of Higher Education.

    These also hold regular conferenences. past conferences. 2015 conference program.

  • Section IIC: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario

    The website for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) is

  • Section III: Quest University: A Focussed Example

    Most alternative teaching at the University level is based on the educational decisions of particular faculty within a larger institution with other goals. However, Quest University (QU) (in Squamish, British Columbia) was essentially created to provide an alternative to more traditional University education practices.

    1. wikipedia entry including quotes:
      • Quest University Canada is a private non-profit liberal arts and sciences university in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.
      • The university was the brainchild of David Strangway, OC, FRSC, who, after his retirement as president of the University of British Columbia, had begun to explore the possibility of creating a four-year, residential, liberal arts institution in Canada. Strangway wanted to create a university "where the student-teacher ratio was better than the Canadian national average of 30 to one, and where students could get a general arts and sciences curriculum that focused not on specific disciplines, but rather how those disciplines operated within the world at large."
      • Quest's approach to academics is rooted in the liberal arts tradition, emphasizing breadth as well as depth. Quest offers one degree: a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences. During the first half of the program, students are required to take 16 "Foundation" courses, which are distributed among five broad disciplinary areas: the Humanities, the Life Sciences, the Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and the Social Sciences
      • The second half of the program is devoted to a "Concentration" program. With the help of a faculty advisor, all students design their own program of concentration studies according to an interdisciplinary question or topic of research. Each student's Individual Concentration Program consists of four principal elements:
        • a statement of the Question;
        • a course plan;
        • a list of related readings; and
        • a Keystone project.
      • Courses at Quest are limited to a maximum of 20 students. Students at Quest study on the block plan, taking one course at a time, each for 3.5 weeks. There are four blocks per semester; full-time students take eight blocks per year.
    2. home page
    3. Engaging Students in Learning - David Helfand (youtube 5:38 minutes)
    4. Designing a university for the new millennium: David Helfand at TEDxWestVancouverED (youtube 19 minutes) no departments, faculty offices assigned by lottery, no faculty ranks -- 40 tutors, every classroom is a seminar room with oval table and 21 chairs (no lecture halls). Multitasking doesn't work, so classes are taken in 3.5 week blocks serially rather than parallel across a semester.
    5. Leading Voices in Higher Education: David Helfand Lecture (53:09 youtube at Dartmouth) 3 minutes in starts to deviate from TEDTalk above. does it make sense to talk about the efficiency of education or is it more like playing a Beethoven sonata which takes the same amount of time for the past 200 years. setting up first not-for-profit private independent liberal-arts and sciences college in Canada was a retirement project of David Strangway (previously president of UBC). multitasking doesn't work. of 40 tutors, 3 are math tutors. brought students at Columbia from a Fall course back in the following Fall and gave them a test on the material that had been taught and they scored statistically the same as the new students starting out in the course. At Quest 16 core courses in first two years: an intro Cornerstone course, 3 life science courses, 2 physical science courses, a math course, 3 humanties courses, 3 social science courses, an art course and 2 interdisciplinary courses. In their second year, each develops a question that they will pursue with a faculty mentor and touchstone works related to the question for the remainder of their degree. Third and fourth year courses comprise: 6-12 focussed on question; 3-8 electives, 2 non-native language, 1-4 experiential learning, 1 capstone. their pursuits. Take out of classroom as much as possible (multi-day field trips possible). Student body 430, half Canadian, third US, rest from 34 other countries. If you fail a course, you weren't working; if you fail on a task in a course, you were working a probably learned something.
    6. Cats on ladders and first-person learning experiences: Ryan Derby-Talbot at TEDxSquamish (16 minutes) Math teacher at Quest talking about teaching Math
    7. What is Quest? (11:45 youtube Quest University promo)
    8. Quest University youtube channel
    9. The Challenge of Establishing World-class Universities By Jamil Salmi World Bank, 2009, p. 51 quote:
      • In some cases, philanthropists have even taken the initiative to launch a new institution with aspirations of excellence as demonstrated by the examples of Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts or Quest University Canada in British Columbia.
    10. Quest Tuition costs: (same for Canadian and non-Canadian Students -- 8 blocks) tution: $31,000; Single room: $6,500; Board $5150; Books $350; Student Association fee $200. All students required to have a laptop or tablet.
    11. UWO Tuition costs: (international students -- 8 months) Tuition: 23,100 -- 23,800 (29,200 for Engineering and Nursing); Residence & Meal Plan (10,400 -- 13,470); Books $2000 -- $3000. [overall, they tell international students to expect between $38,460 and $48,630 in costs first year]
    12. UWO Tuition costs: (Canadian students -- 8 months) Tuition: approximately 7,300 (12,636 for Engineering); Residence & Meal Plan ($9000 -- 12000); Books approximately $1,500. [Illustrates the extent of government supplement funding -- difference in books cost puzzling at UWO, Quest of course relies less on `textbooks'.]
    13. Learing Outcomes for Quest University
    14. Learning Commons at Quest University support for peer tutoring
    15. Experiential learning blocks usually in support of student's individual concentration program
    16. sample concentration program This one was based on question: What is the best way to educate a child?
    17. Information for Prospective Faculty
    18. Quest Course Calendar (has detail on courses more typical of our course outlines rather than our course calendar)
    19. Advising As Co-Learning: Lessons From Quest University Canada, by E. Gorham, Quest University, INTED2013 Proceedings; 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference, 2013, 3952-3958.
      • abstract:
      • Quest University Canada, the country's first non-profit, independent liberal arts and sciences university, opened its doors to students in September 2007. Among its goals have been to engage undergraduate students across the curriculum and to help change the way Canadians think about university education. In five short years it has achieved the first of these goals and the university has been ranked number one in North America in five important categories in the 2010 and 2011 National Surveys of Student Engagement (NSSE). Two reasons for its success lie in integrating academic advising into the curriculum of the university and in helping students assume control of their own education in the advising process. A third is its focus on developmental mentoring each student is advised relevant to his or her stage in an academic career and this assistance continues throughout the four years at Quest. After an intensive two-year program of required courses in the liberal arts, students create their own interdisciplinary majors. Consequently a central part of the educational process at Quest is helping students choose a major and craft an individual educational plan that meets their needs as active learners.
      • In this paper and presentation I would like to explain Quest's overall program, but specifically the role of academic advising in fostering undergraduate student engagement in their own learning. Academic advising succeeds at Quest because students benefit from both in and out of class mentoring and the comprehensive advising program encourages students to think about their own studies in a systematic and critical way. It goes beyond advising-as-teaching, as Quest faculty members advise students as co-learners. The advising-as-co-learning model encourages faculty to prioritize academic advising in their pedagogical strategies, aids both parties in understanding the strengths and limitations of the advising process, and helps students develop a mature relationship with the faculty member. This, in turn, energizes students in their studies and eases their transition into a career and young adulthood.
    20. Democratic (Higher) Education: Inculcating Citizenship Through Teaching At The University, by Eric Gorham, The Centennial Review, Vol. 37, No. 3 (FALL 1993), pp. 605-627
    21. Service-Learning and Political Knowledge, by Eric Gorham, Journal of Political Science Education, 2005 issue 3.

    Analyzing the web site using the alternative teaching keyword searches:

    1. active learning site search
    2. authentic assessment site search
    3. autodidacticism site search
    4. autonomous learning site search
    5. Bell Lancaster method site search
    6. case method site search
    7. critical thinking site search
    8. collaborative learning site search
    9. connected learning site search
    10. constructivism site search
    11. constructivist learning site search
    12. cooperative learning site search
    13. critical pedagogy site search
    14. Daniel Greenberg site search
    15. David Kolb site search
    16. democratic education site search
    17. differentiated assessment site search
    18. differentiated evaluation site search
    19. differentiated instruction site search
    20. discovery learning site search
    21. experiential learning site search
    22. flipped classroom site search
    23. formative assessment site search
    24. hidden curriculum site search
    25. integrative learning site search
    26. inquiry based learning site search
    27. jigsaw site search
    28. John Dewey site search
    29. learner centered education site search
    30. learning by teaching site search
    31. learning cell site search
    32. learning community site search
    33. mastery learning site search
    34. mission based learning site search
    35. monitorial system site search
    36. Moore method site search
    37. mutual instruction site search
    38. open source learning site search
    39. peer assessment site search
    40. peer instruction site search
    41. problem based learning site search
    42. project based learning site search
    43. reciprocal teaching site search
    44. reflective practice site search
    45. scaffolding site search
    46. self assessment site search
    47. self directed learning site search
    48. self regulated learning site search
    49. service learning site search
    50. situated learning site search
    51. student centered learning site search
    52. student dyad site search
    53. student voice site search
    54. team based learning site search
    55. think pair share site search
    56. transformative learning site search
  • Section IV: University Teaching Support Centers in Canada

    University Teaching Support Centers can be thought of as establishing a default set of ideas on teaching for faculty at a particular University. Thus, one way to look for alternative teaching approaches is to see if they are part of the idea collection presented by the Support Centers. For a list of teaching support centers in Canada,

  • Section V: Conclusions

    Writing in 1987, Paul Guglielmino et al noted:

    (in Self-directed learning readiness and performance in the workplace, by Paul J. Guglielmino, Lucy M. Guglielmino, Huey B. Long, Higher Education 1987 issue 3).

    However, as noted by Premkumar et al:

    (in Does Medical Training Promote or Deter Self Directed Learning? A Longitudinal Mixed Methods Study, by Kalyani Premkumar, Punam Pahwa, Ankona Banerjee, Kellen Baptiste, Hitesh Bhatt, and Hyun J. Lim, Academic Medicine 2013 issue 11). Similar results have also been reported in Engineering: (in J. Stolk, W. Franklin, R. Martello, K. Koehler, K. C. Chen, and R. Herter, IEEE Frontiers of Education Conference (FIE), 2014). Stolk et al used the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI) whereas Premkumar et al used Guglielmino's SDL Readiness Scale (SDLRS) -- both measures have been widely used and analyzed.

    Of course, what you conclude from such measures depends on the assumptions you go in with, for example, Murphy et al report:

    (in Medical student knowledge regarding radiology before and after a radiological anatomy module: implications for vertical integration and self-directed learning, Kevin P. Murphy, Lee Crush, Eoin O'Malley, Fergus E. Daly, Colm M. P. O'Tuathaigh, Owen J. O'Connor, John F. Cryan, and Michael M. Maher, Insights Imaging 2014 issue 5). These authors took an interesting alternative approach to measuring self-directed learning

    While such results might be an indication to some to abandon this approach, to others it merely recalls the Grooks of Piet Hein ( wikiquote entry):

       Problems worthy
       of attack
       prove their worth
       by hitting back.
    In this age where things that are easy to do are quickly being automated (cf. Digital diploma mills: the automation of higher education, by David F. Noble (York University), Science as Culture, 1998 issue 3), it is only the things that we don't know how to do that are worth doing ourselves.